“I’ve always been known for standing up for the underdog,” she said.
The 23-year-old has been nominated for a WA Young Achiever Award in recognition of her community service and volunteering.
As a Sacred Heart College student, she was part of the Young Vinnies program and a student volunteering mission to Vietnam.
Ms O’Neil studied law and arts with a major in social justice at university, where she was active in a student advocacy group and visited Wyndham twice as part of a program to address youth suicide.
Ms O’Neil’s other work has included internships with an Albany legal service and Legal Aid’s domestic violence unit, volunteering with the Red Cross soup patrol, providing court support with a women’s refuge and assisting a humanitarian group with temporary visas.
Now she is setting up a not-for-profit website aimed at identifying and providing information about social issues in Perth, such as access to affordable social housing and homelessness, and connecting people with organisations that can help them.
“The idea is that knowledge is power – if people are aware then they can act on it,” she said.
“A lot of people know they want to do something, but don’t know what to do.”
She said her focus was to address humanitarian problems in Perth.
“Something to improve the community I live in and I love,” she said.
“It’s so important to understand what other people in the community are going through.
“Volunteering is one way to connect with other people.”
Ms O’Neil recommended volunteering as a way to have fun and feel good about yourself and said it could be as easy as walking your elderly neighbour’s dog.
“It’s what makes a good community, when we all look after each other,” she said.
“I’ve met so many friends through volunteering, it makes you feel safer and more secure in own community.”
Award winners will be announced at a presentation on May 13.